We’ve been taught never to expose a sea scallop in the skillet to very high heat, lest its tender meat turn rubbery and dry-looking cracks creep up from the bottom edges. The new “Poole’s: Recipes and Stories From a Modern Diner” (Ten Speed Press, $35, 304 pages) has forced me to reconsider that position because of the way chef Ashley Christensen puts a dark sear on them.
One side only is coated with Wondra flour, which promotes a brown crust. These scallops don’t spend more time than usual in the pan and are treated to a last-minute bit of brown butter and gremolata made with oil-cured olives. The seafood’s sweetness plays against that piquant topping. Pretty simple, yet sumptuous, for a 20-minute meal.
Pan-roasted scallops with gremolata
This is served at Poole's Diner in Raleigh, N.C., on a bed of beluga lentils and melted leeks, and recipes for both appear in chef Ashley Christensen's terrific new cookbook.
Adapted from "Poole's: Recipes and Stories From a Modern Diner," by Ashley Christensen.
For the gremolata:
Leaves from 4 to 6 stems flat-leaf parsley
1 small clove garlic
5 chive stems
2 tablespoons oil-cured olives
For the scallops:
12 large (U-10) sea scallops
1/4 cup Wondra flour
2 tablespoons neutrally flavored oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
For the gremolata: As you prep the following ingredients, transfer them to a medium bowl: Mince the parsley leaves. Grate 1/2 teaspoon of zest from the lemon. Mince the garlic. Finely chop or snip the chives. Mince the olives. Stir to combine.
For the scallops: Pat the scallops dry with paper towels, then season them lightly with salt on both sides. Line a plate with paper towels. Spread the Wondra flour on a plate.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then add the oil and swirl to coat. Once the oil is shimmering, gently press one flat side of each scallop into the flour to coat, then place the scallop floured side down in the skillet. Cook for about 2 minutes or until that side develops a golden crust.
Add the butter to the skillet; swirl the skillet so the melted butter is distributed. Cook for 1 minute, then turn the scallops over. The butter will be turning brown; carefully tilt the skillet so it collects on one side, and use it to quickly baste the scallops just until they look cooked through and glistening on the second side. Transfer them to the paper-towel-lined plate.
Arrange 3 scallops on each plate, first-seared (darker) sides up; top each with a spoonful of the gremolata. Serve right away.
Per serving: 190 calories, 12 g protein, 10 g carbohydrates, 12 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 440 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugar